Between present shopping, card sending, meal and event planning, it can be somewhat difficult to relax and enjoy the Christmas season. You think, plan, re-think, hurry, and Christmas Eve passes as quickly as it came. Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. Shifting your mindset and re-thinking your priorities can help you enjoy a more mindful Christmas. Here are a few strategies that will help you refocus on important things.
Practicing mindfulness exercises is a great way to distance yourself from stress and enjoy the holiday season. It’s a way of pressing the pause button and removing yourself from the hectic atmosphere that sometimes reigns during this time of the year.
What I particularly appreciate with mindfulness is that it can be easily fit into busy schedules and is an efficient way of taking care of yourself. Even taking five minutes to breathe or mindfully enjoy a cup of coffee can make a difference. Or how about taking a break to stop, think, and write down what you are grateful for?
Plan in me-time
Talking about taking a break and taking care of yourself: In the middle of all the preparation, shopping, and seasonal events, we often forget to take some needed me-time. However, time for ourselves is exactly what we need when we spend the rest of our day preparing things for others and taking care of them.
You might think that it’s almost impossible to fit in some self-care when you already wonder how you are going to get everything done. I think we should change our perspective and realize that: first, our well-being and health are just as important as all these things we want to get done, secondly, you will have much more resources to deal with your to-do list if your cup is full (and I’m not only talking about tea/coffee).
There are so many little things to enjoy during this time of the year: take 5-10 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and Christmas cookies snuggled up in a blanket, watch a Christmas movie (OK, I admit it, I love them!!), play carols on a musical instrument, take a candlelight bath, or whatever helps you relax and enjoy the moment.
Take time for meaningful relationships
Isn’t Christmas the best time to connect with your loved ones? That is only if you make it one of your priorities for the festive period.
Take time to do Christmassy things with your family: putting decorations in place, baking cookies, building a snowman, watching a Christmas movie (yes, I really love them!). The holiday season is such a good opportunity to share happy memories from your own childhood, take more time to listen to your children and play with them.
Also, you will certainly meet relatives and friends you haven’t seen in a while. Try to make time to listen to them and deepen the relationship. There might also be people you are less keen on meeting – maybe it would be a good time to reflect and ask yourself why. Are these toxic relationships or is there something that needs to be discussed (maybe nothing for Christmas Eve, though)?
Make mindful gifts
In many cases, making gifts has turned into buying a voucher or asking the recipient what they would like to have. Of course, it’s nice to give someone exactly what they are expecting; plus, it makes things easier when you are in a hurry. However, doesn’t it remove most of the magic?
Why not think about a more mindful gift that might make the person even happier. They will be surprised and it will certainly create a happy memory. In my eyes, a very special gift is offering an experience and/or spend time with someone. It could be in the form of a gift card for an event or offering to help them with a task. I have listed more mindful gift ideas in this post.
For your children, you might want to try to four gift method or use it as an orientation to have a more mindful and clutter-free Christmas. With this concept, you decide to give each child one gift of each of these four categories:
- Something they want: an item they have been eyeing for a while (a toy, a bike, a ticket to an event, an electronic device, etc.)
- Something they need: pick something useful (a new desk, a backpack, a special pen, etc.)
- Something they wear: a special item to wear (a pair of shoes, a dress, a cap)
- Something to read: books, a magazine subscription, etc.
Organization is key if you want to enjoy the festive period and have time for the things that are important to you (see above). Plan early on and determine if there are tasks that can be completed in October, November or even September.
- Shop ahead: You will spend less time waiting in lines and traffic jams, make sure the long-wished-for lego set is not out-of-stock and save some money as prices increase towards Christmas.
- Do your groceries shopping in advance for non-fresh items
- Pre-cook and freeze what can be prepared (e.g. sauces, stuffing, desserts)
- Combine errands
- Choose/shop your outfit well in advance
- Write Christmas cards early on
- Write lists: You could have a lift for gifts and add items to it throughout the year when a good idea occurs to you. You can also have a to-do list or use a planner to prepare the festivities and schedule in events.
Obviously, depending on your preferences and traditions, there are things that you might want to leave for the Christmas season. When I was a child, we used to bake German Christmas cookies with my mother and even involved our French friends in the tradition. Therefore, I particularly enjoy taking an afternoon or two with the boys to bake cookies – it adds to the Christmas spirit for me.
Have realistic expectations
If you want to enjoy a peaceful holiday season, it’s important to make sure you’re not being over-ambitious with your planning. E.g., if you don’t particularly enjoy cooking, you might want to opt for a less complicated menu.
Also, you want to be cautious about overloading your schedule. Of course, there are many events to which we are invited be it at school, or with friends or relatives. Think well before accepting to attend all events and later feeling overwhelmed. Besides, learn to say no when you know that you will not enjoy the party either because you just don’t want to attend or because it might be boring for the children. And if you need to be present, an option can be to come and just stay for a couple of hours.
In other words, make sure you mostly do things you really want to do. Don’t hesitate to be assertive and say no if you know accepting something might put your wellbeing at stake. And don’t forget that often, the pressure comes from ourselves: try to take it easy and avoid over-complicating things.
Ask for help
We easily fall into the trap of trying to manage everything on our own and putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. If you recognize yourself, then take a deep breath… and ask for help.
You don’t necessarily need to do all the cooking and preparation just because you are the host. You could ask your guests to bring a dish or one of them to come earlier to help you. Also, if you’re always hosting the festivities and it stresses you out, you could suggest taking turns with relatives or friends and celebrate at a different place. Maybe you can enroll someone to help you with the cleaning or other preparations.
Stop feeling guilty for asking someone to look after the children for an afternoon if you need a break. They will be thankful to retrieve an energized mom or dad.
So, you probably understood it by now, introducing more mindfulness to the holiday period is something that you need to consciously decide. So, make sure enjoying the season and taking time for yourself and your family stay at the top of your priority list!